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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Eurythmy as Visible Speech
GA 279

Speech Eurythmy Course

Report in the “News Sheet” (Nachrichtenblatt)

From June 24th—July 12th a course of lectures on speech eurythmy was held at the Goetheanum. It had as content a further presentation of much which had already been given in this domain and at the same time a deepening and widening of what was already known. The eurythmy artists, who both at the Goetheanum and going out from there to many places, are practicing eurythmy as an art, the eurythmy teachers, the teaching staff of the Stuttgart eurythmy school founded and directed by Marie Steiner, the eurythmy teachers of the Waldorf School and the Fortbildungsschule at the Goetheanum, the curative eurythmists, and a number of personalities who through their profession as artists or scientists in other spheres are interested in eurythmy, attended the course.

Eurythmy makes it possible to bring the artistic as such, in its essence and its sources, to visible beholding. This was specially borne in mind during the presentation of this course. He only can work as eurythmy artist who creatively unfolds a sense for art from an inner call, an inner enthusiasm.

In order to bring to manifestation the possibilities of form and movement inherent in the human organisation it is necessary that the soul be completely enfilled with art. This universal character of eurythmy underlay all that was presented.

Whoever wishes to do eurythmy must have penetrated into the being of speech-formation. He must, before all, have approached the mysteries of sound-creation. In every sound an expression for a soul experience is given; in the vowel-sounds for a thinking, feeling, willing self-revelation of the soul, in the consonant sounds for the way in which the soul represents an outer thing or a process. This expression of language remains for the most part quite subconscious in the case of ordinary speech; the eurythmist must learn to know it quite exactly, for he has to transform what becomes audible in speech into gestures which are quiescent or in movement. In this course, therefore, the inner structure of language was revealed. The sound-significance of the word, which everywhere underlies the meaning-significance, was made visible. By the eurythmy gestures themselves, some aspects of the inner laws of language—little recognised at the present time, when speaking is the expression of a strongly abstract attitude of soul—can be visibly manifested. That is what happened in this course. Thereby, it may be hoped, it will also have given to eurythmy teachers the guiding lines necessary for them.

The eurythmist must devote himself to the gesture down to its smallest detail, so that his performance really becomes the self-understood expression of the life of soul. He can only give form to the gesture in its fullness when the smallest detail comes first to consciousness, that it may later become the habitual expression of the soul-being.

A study was made of how the gesture as such reveals soul-experience and spirit-content, and also of how this revelation relates itself to the soul-expression which is manifested audibly in the language of sound. From eurythmy one can learn to value the technique of art; but from eurythmy one can indeed also become deeply imbued with the way in which the technical must put aside everything external and be completely taken hold of by the soul, if the truly artistic is to come to life. People who are active in any sphere of art often speak of how the soul must work behind the technique; the truth is that it is in the technique that the soul must work.

A special value was laid in these lectures upon showing that in the truly formed gestures the aesthetically sensitive human being perceives the soul-element directly in a quite unequivocal way. Examples were shown which demonstrated how a content in the soul-configuration can be made obvious in a certain gesture-formation.

It was also shown how the whole structure of language, which reveals itself in grammar, syntax, rhythm, in poetical figures of speech, in rhyme and verse-formation, also finds its corresponding realisation in eurythmy.

The audience attending this course was not only to be led into the knowledge of eurythmy but they should be brought to the experience of how all art must be sustained by love and enthusiasm. The eurythmist cannot separate himself from his artistic creation and objectively put it forward for aesthetic enjoyment as can the painter or sculptor, but he remains personally within his performance; one sees from him himself whether or no art lives within him as a divine world-content. In the immediate artistic present, art in its visible essence must be made manifest by the actual human being of the eurythmist. This demands a particularly inward and intimate relationship to art. To help the partakers towards this understanding was the aim of this course. It wished to show how, when beholding the gestures feeling, inner perception are enkindled in the soul, and how this inner perception then leads to the experience of the visible word. Much which can only be partially expressed in the audible word can be completely revealed through the movements of eurythmy. The audible word in recitation and declamation, in conjunction with the visible word, produces a total expression which can result in the most intensive artistic unity.